Consequences of DC DUI


DUI’s in the District of Columbia are heavily enforced and aggressively prosecuted. A first time DUI offense in the District of Columbia is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine. While it is a misdemeanor (as opposed to a more serious felony), the consequences of a DUI conviction can be far reaching.

The first main consequence is that the court will likely put the individual on at least one year of supervised probation. That could be in addition to a jail time or in lieu of jail completely. Most (but not all) first time offenders get probation in the District of Columbia absent some egregious circumstances are facts that trigger mandatory minimums. DC supervised probation is a tremendous inconvenience and extremely unpleasant experience. The probationer has a court supervision officer who may basically act as that one’s own personal policeman. The probationer must drug test weekly, report to the probation officer at least once a week, and subject themselves to home visits. Home visits are where the probation officer comes to the probationer’s home to determine whether the person is living in a stable environment.

Direct Consequences

For anyone, these types of conditions can be humiliating, inconvenient, and tedious. In addition, most DC DUI sentences include a requirement that the person convicted complete several special conditions. These special conditions include completion of a Traffic Alcohol Program, a Victim Impact Panel, and Traffic Safety Program. The government asks for these three conditions in almost every DC DUI or DWI conviction.

The Traffic Alcohol Program (or TAP) is the most time consuming and expensive of the three classes. The Family and Medical Counseling Services is the organization that administers the TAP. A typically TAP program consists of an intake (which costs around $80) and then around 12 sessions of coursework (at $30 per course). Failure to complete this special condition could result in probation revocation and jail time. At Scrofano Law PC, we often recommend clients complete a private alcohol program during the pendency of their case.

The Victim Impact Panel is a class administered by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (or MADD). This program is much shorter and less expensive than the TAP and involves friends and family members of victims of drunk driving tell their stories about the tragic consequences of drunk driving. Failure to complete this special condition could result in probation revocation and jail time.

Finally, the Traffic Safety Program is any course that focuses on driver safety. This course can be completed online. It takes about eight hours to complete and costs around $50 to $60. In addition to these special conditions, the court could impose fines, community service, and/or restitution or other special conditions.

Collateral Consequences

In addition to direct consequences of a DUI conviction in DC, which involve things like probation and jail time, there are a number of collateral consequences of a DUI conviction. The first major collateral consequence is the loss of one’s driver’s license or driving privilege. In the District of Columbia, just an arrest for a DUI can trigger a license suspension or the suspension of one’s driving privileges in the city. When DC police arrest someone for DUI, they are supposed to issue what’s called a Notice of Proposed Suspension. The form should be read carefully because it provides instructions on how to prevent an immediate license suspension for the arrest.

The notice instructs the arrestee to apply for a hearing in person at the DC Department of Motor Vehicles within ten days of arrest (or fifteen days for an out of state resident). If the arrestee does not apply for this hearing, the license or driving privileges (for an out of state resident) will be suspended or revoked.

Independent of the possible suspension for a DUI or DWI arrest, if convicted for DUI, the DC DMV will revoke someone’s license or driving privileges for six months or one year and sometimes longer for second or greater offenses. That is a major collateral consequence of a conviction. Unlike some states, the DC DMV does not have a mechanism to apply for or obtain a limited license or worker’s license. That means if convicted for DUI, that person cannot lawfully drive in the District of Columbia at all. Although there is some limited ability to drive with the installation of an interlock device.

Another major collateral consequence of a DC DUI or DWI conviction is having a conviction for a misdemeanor come up in one’s background check. That means if applying for a job with the government or a private employer who does background checks, the conviction will appear. Having the conviction could prevent an employer from hiring the applicant or could prevent the government from extending a security clearance.

A third major collateral consequence is skyrocketing car insurance. Many insurance companies will drop drivers who are convicted for a DUI offense. In addition, if convicted for DUI, the only car insurance available may be what’s called “SR-22 Insurance.” SR-22 is a special type of insurance that carries high premiums and is required by many states, including the District of Columbia, after getting convicted for DUI or DWI.

Hiring a DUI Attorney in DC

Revoked or suspended driver’s license, inability to obtain employment, and skyrocketing insurance costs are just three of the major collateral consequences of a DUI or DWI conviction in the District of Columbia.

If you are arrested for DUI in the District of Columbia, the stakes are high. You can suffer direct and collateral consequences that fundamentally alter your life for the worse. Therefore, it is important to immediately consult with a qualified DC DUI attorney. Contact Scrofano Law PC for a consultation today. All of our attorneys have experience fighting DUI cases.